England’s dramatic victory over Pakistan on day five of the first Test in Rawalpindi is “one of the finest ever” in the country’s history, according to former skipper Michael Atherton.
Ben Stokes’ side battled both Pakistan’s stubborn batting and the light to snatch a 74-run win in the closing minutes of day five.
It extends a remarkable turnaround for England under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, with Atherton praising their latest achievement.
“It has to be one of England’s finest ever Test match wins,” Atherton told Sky Sports. “I couldn’t think of another England team that would have won the game on this pitch.
“Even if the result had gone against England today I don’t think you would have had anyone criticise it. It gave us a fantastic last day. The crowd was brilliant and enthralled. What is the point of sport if it isn’t about that?”
While Stokes added: “There are a few things you can plan for, which is the way we approach the game. But you cannot plan what happened to the squad a few days before. That seems a long time ago now wondering whether we would start on time so I have to give the group credit.
“There were some key individual performances – Will Jacks getting his call-up minutes before call time. Ollie Pope donning the gloves while batting at three. What we had to deal with going into this Test makes this win even better.
“We have had eight or nine Tests now under mine and Brendon’s leadership and the one thing we focus on is ourselves rather than the opposition. We will always take the positive route and not second guess ourselves about the opposition. It was a great surface to bat on so was a real opportunity for the talent we have to express themselves.
“We have some broken bodies in that dressing room. Having the lads run in as a captain it is great to see that enthusiasm and heart in the field. I don’t think I have seen a group of players who want to put their bodies on the line so much. They are a real special group of players.”